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CSU to host Peach Belt tennis tourney at Clayton Tennis Center

By Doug Gorman

dgorman@news-daily.com

Tennis anyone?

If you like watching some of the best college tennis players in the Southeast, it's an easy question to answer as both the Peach Belt Conference women's and men's tournaments come to the Clayton County Tennis Center at the International Park in Jonesboro today-Sunday.

Admission to the event is free.

Clayton State athletic director Mason Barfield is excited CSU gets a chance to play host to the three-day event.

"You know you're hosting some of the best players in the country," Barfield said.

He would be right. The Peach Belt Conference has turned into one of the top NCAA Division II tennis leagues in the nation.

Six PBC women's team's and eight men's programs bring national rankings into the event.

With the top two teams getting to host NCAA regionals next week.

In the women's event, Armstrong Atlantic is ranked third in the national poll, Columbus State sixth, Francis Marion eighth, Clayton State 11th Augusta State 19th and Georgia College 22nd.

On the men's side, Armstrong Atlantic, the defending NCAA Division II national champions, are ranked first in the country, Georgia College is ranked sixth, Columbus State is ranked eighth, USC-Aiken ninth, Francis Marion is ranked 17th, Lander 18th and Augusta State 24th.

"Our top teams in the Peach Belt will beat 50 percent of the Division I programs in the country." Barfield said.

Armstrong Atlantic comes into the event favored to win both the men and women's event.

Action gets underway at 11 a.m. Friday in women 's action with USC-Aiken playing UNC -Pembroke, Georgia College taking on Georgia Southwestern and Lander playing North Georgia.

Clayton State won't play its first matches of the tournament until 8 a.m. Saturday.

On the men's side, matches start at 2 as North Georgia plays Georgia Southwestern, Lander meets Columbus State and Augusta State takes on Armstrong Atlantic.

The remaining tournament schedule, as well as results, can be found on the Clayton State athletic website.

Clayton State, which only fields a women's team, comes into the event, hungry to capture the event.

The Lady Lakers are 9-5 overall and 6-3 in Peach Belt Conference.

Still, CSU head coach Tamas Szabados likes his team's chances.

"I am expecting us to make it to the semifinals, and then we would have to play Armstrong Atlantic," Szabados said. "But I think if we play like we are capable of, we have a good chance,"

The Lakers have picked up a solid effort during the regular season from several players, including singles standouts Selema Hidass, who is 11-3 and Marie Cercelleti, who is 10-2.

Viktoriya Semyrodenk and doubles partner Katie White are 9-4 overall. The duo finished second at the indoor nationals this year.

"We just look forward to bringing some of the top tennis players in the country to the International Park," Barfield said. "We encourage people to come out and give it a look. There are a lot of people from around here in the tennis playing community, who are anxious to go out there and watch it."